Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Punxsutawney, Jefferson County
Punxsutawney native, Bert States was a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the author of The Pleasure of the Play (1994).
Drama scholar, Bert O. States was born in Punxsutawney in 1929. After taking a degree at Penn State, States worked in local broadcasting and later joined the Army. Upon his return, he earned an MA from Penn State and a DFA at Yale. He wrote voluminously about drama and about dreams. He was a professor emeritus from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Bert Olen States was born on August 8, 1929, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Bert and Helma States. After graduation from high school, States enrolled at Penn State University, earning his BA in 1950. He worked at radio stations in St. Marys and Punxsutawney during the early 1950s and gained experience writing documentaries for the Armed Forces Radio Service. In 1951, he married Nancy Beun. The couple had two children: Jerri and Eric. States earned his MA from Penn State in 1955 and went on to study at Yale University, eventually earning a Doctorate in Fine Arts in 1960. He held professorial positions at Skidmore College in New York and the University of Pittsburgh before being hired by Cornell University in 1967. He would remain there until 1978 when he took a position at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Bert O. States’ writing output was wide and varied. During his military service in the early 1950s, he wrote scripts for documentaries for the Armed Forces Radio Service, as well as announcing programs on air. As a devotee and scholar of drama, he tried his hand at writing plays. States evaluated his efforts thusly: “all of them mediocre to poor” (Contemporary Authors Online). His scholarly work, however, was highly esteemed. His book on dreams and their intersection with literature, Seeing in the Dark (1997), was praised for originality and for the quality of writing. Rosemary Dinnage wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that “States writes with such lucidity and charm that it can well be imagined by the non-academic reader with plenty of intellectual curiosity” (quoted from States’ online curriculum vitae). He contributed often to academic journals such as Yale Review, Hudson Review, and the South Atlantic Quarterly, as well as served as an associate editor of the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Theatre Journal.
Bert O. States retired as a professor emeritus from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1994. He passed away in 2003.
Irony and Drama: A Poetics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1971.
The Shape of Paradox: An Essay on ‘Waiting for Godot.’ Berkeley: U of California P, 1978.
Great Reckonings in Little Rooms: On the Phenomenology of Theatre. Berkeley: U of California P, 1985.
The Rhetoric of Dreams. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1988.
‘Hamlet’ and the Concept of Character. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1992.
Dreaming and Storytelling. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1993.
The Pleasure of the Play. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1994.
Seeing in the Dark: Reflections on Dreams and Dreaming. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1997.
The Tall Grass, 1958.
A Rent in the Universe, 1967.
“Bert O(len) States.” The Gale Literary Databases: Contemporary Authors Online. 12 Dec. 2001. 13 Aug. 2005. <http://www.galenet.com>.